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Mobile is now the first screen

A ketchup moment

Mobile devices are replacing television as the first screen on which customers view video, because young people’s viewing habits are changing more rapidly than broadcasters can keep up with. The suddenly-rapid pace of digital change in the TV market may be a ‘ketchup moment’ and the TV industry will have to work on a mobile-first strategy. Not a digital-first strategy.

Say hello to the new first screen

Video consumption – anytime, anywhere – has become mainstream, accelerating the decline of traditional TV viewing. As consumers consume the exponentially growing quantity of content now available, quality matters when it comes to paid content and increasingly to free content.

Digital Video and the Connected Consumer” is a new research report from Accenture, finding television is the only product category to see uniform, double-digit usage declines worldwide among viewers of nearly all ages – rapidly being replaced by smartphones, laptops, desktops and tablets.

Digital analytics firm Flurry said that people in the US spent an average of 177 minutes a day watching video on mobiles compared with only 168 minutes watching TV.

Stats from Deloitte say:

  • Millennials now watch more TV shows (not just YouTube videos) on mobile devices than on the traditional TV box – 57% of their viewing behavior is on the small screen – their first screen.
  • 25% of these Millennials outright cancelled their pay-TV services in the past 12 months or haven’t had one for over one year.
  • 72% of these Millennials indicated that streaming video is the most important way for them to view video (including television programming).


Now, Eric Scherer, director of future media at French broadcaster France Télévisions, has outlined digital trends. Among those is that the forces influencing this shift have accelerated dramatically in 2015 alone.

“Everything is coming almost at once,” said Scherer who likened the shift to banging a bottle of tomato sauce for a while before it suddenly pours out. “We can call it the ketchup moment, if you want. TV is changing very quickly and this change is right now.”

Scherer points to the emergence of “a new syntax, a new grammar, a new vocabulary” for news, particularly when delivered through “the new kids on the block” in the form of apps including Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope. He had this to say about the Millennials:

“They are always mobile, they are always social, they are always interactive … and it is more and more live,” he said, before turning his attention to YouTube and the growth of multi-channel networks (MCNs) like Maker Studios, which was bought by Disney in 2014. “These are the people who are the new big players,” said Scherer, showing a slide of fresh-faced YouTubers. “These are the kids now ruling the entertainment and it’s just the beginning of it.”

Trust is the next killer app

Scherer warned TV firms not to abuse the privilege of having access to big data on viewers and viewing, though.

“Trust is the next killer app when you talk about data,” he said, noting that at a time when governments and big technology firms alike are under scrutiny about how they track Internet users: “You better have a good relationship with your end users. Trust and transparency are considered as new services.”

Precision media needed

Scherer said the key challenge for the television industry is to move from “a mass media in a few markets – we were basically carpet-bombing without knowing where we were dropping our content – to a more precision media where we can target, and will more and more be able to find the market niches.”

As consumers have an overabundance of devices and digital content, startups and new entrants must deliver value-add to win them away. The ability to react swiftly to product innovation opportunities and competitive challenges, reducing time to market from months to minutes, will be what is required in the new digital media ecosystem.

According to the before mentioned Accenture report:

“Consumers are now both kings and kingmakers, fully in control of which bundles, which brands and which content succeeds. The ability to capitalize will depend on rapidly understanding these preferences.”

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